In my first post about moving over to Guangzhou, lots of you said you’d love to see more of my day to day life – so here we go!
A little warning though – if you are vegetarian, vegan and/or sensitive to images of animals for the purposes of food, this may not be the post for you.
First up I thought I’d share some snaps of my local wet market. This market is one block over from my apartment complex and I shop here several days a week.
There is two levels – street level and basement. At street level you walk in and there is a huge florist with beautiful fresh bouquets. This level also has fruit, tofu, noodles, meat and fish.
The concept of doing the big supermarket shop once a week is very unusual here. People shop everyday (sometimes twice!) and purchase just enough for what they need for their lunch or evening meal.
Locals often live in very small spaces and a kitchen may only comprise of a gas burner, a wok, a rice cooker and a couple of shelves – no fridge. Storing large amounts of food long term is not an option.
Roast meat shop – chicken, pork, duck. Many people will purchase roasted meats and then cook rice and veggies at home. They can also buy a small quantity rather than buy a whole chicken or duck.
My girls love buying a bag of strawberries each. Most quantities here are measured in weight per 500g. For the strawberries, 13 yuan (AU$2.70) for 500g.
The noodle shop. Every type of fresh noodle known to man. Super cheap.
Lots of shops sell freshly made dumplings – they make them on the spot. We eat dumplings at least once a week – easy meal and the kids love them. There are lots of different varieties, most are pork and vegetable but you can also get lots of shrimp or veggie ones.
The butchers are a bit different to home, in that they sell EVERY PART of the animal. It can be a bit confronting to start with (especially the buckets of blood!) but I like the no waste philosophy. The butchers stalls are not refrigerated so purchasing meat in the morning is best. They will mince or dice meat for you with their enormous cleavers if you ask.
Fish are usually sold fresh in tanks or large buckets. Most fish here in Guangzhou are fresh water species from the Pearl River delta, where there are huge fish farms. You can buy sea species like salmon and tuna at the supermarkets but they are expensive.
The chicken shop – they are freshly slaughtered and plucked at the market if you would like. Whole chickens are sold feet, neck, head, heart and all and often with developing eggs inside, which is considered a delicacy in many parts of Asia.
A basket of frogs! It is also not unusual to see snake, crocodile, scorpions, many varieties of eels and turtles at the market.It depends on where you go, the size of the market and the specialty of the stall holder.
Now downstairs in the basement level. This is where all the fresh veggies are, as well as a few small general stalls, dry goods such as rice, noodles, tea, grains and bottles of soy sauce and vinegar.
So many more types of mushrooms than you see in Australia!
Every type of leafy green imaginable. Makes my green smoothies interesting! Ever heard of asparagus lettuce before? Me either until I moved here. It’s exactly as you imagine – it looks like a giant piece of asparagus with a lettuce on top!
The language barrier isn’t much of a problem. The stall holder will hand me a small basket, I fill it up with what I’d like to buy, he/she will weigh each item, then tell me the price. I’m getting pretty good with my numbers but sometimes I struggle so they’ll type it on their phone and show it to me.
I’ve started adopting the ‘buy just what you need for tonight’s meal’ shopping style and my ingredients will cost between AU$ 1-4. Being a vegetarian here would be very easy, there is so much to choose from and plentiful alternatives to meat with the varieties of tofu, mushrooms and seaweeds.
There are a lot of dried berries, roots and fungi that are used for soups and teas. The idea of herbal medicine and food that balances the body is ingrained in Chinese culture and evident in how the Chinese people cook and eat.
Down in the basement you can also pick up kitchenware basics, laundry needs like mops, buckets and storage containers, and there are a few small clothes stalls. Yesterday I discovered a little haberdashery with loads of zips, threads and elastics!
Now that I’ve finished writing this it’s time for me to pop over there and do some shopping for tonight’s dinner!